Love Storiyaan Review: Highly Watchable Celebration Of Love Across Man-Made Divides

Love Storiyaan Review: A new Amazon Prime Video documentary series zeroes in on six real-life married couples who recount the battles they had to fight on multiple fronts to hold on to each other in a conservative society that has little patience for disregard for tradition.

Love Storiyaan Review: Highly Watchable Celebration Of Love Across Man-Made Divides

A still from Love Storiyaan. (courtesy: YouTube)

What's a good love story without conflict? A popular Shillong radio jockey playfully poses that question to his life partner, also an RJ of repute, in the course of his show. The path of love is indeed strewn with thorns in Love Storiyaan.

A new Amazon Prime Video documentary series produced by Dharmatic Entertainment and conceptualised by Somen Mishra, Love Storiyaan zeroes in on six real-life married couples who recount the battles they had to fight on multiple fronts to hold on to each other in a conservative society that has little patience for disregard for tradition.

The Valentine's Day release is a fitting and highly watchable celebration of love across all man-made divides, differences and geographical borders. The relationships the series showcases have defied prescriptive beliefs aggravated manifold by the widespread currency that the politically expedient "love jihad" narrative has gained in India in recent years.

Driven by the resolve to be together no matter what, the Love Storiyaan couples surmount daunting hurdles as they negotiate hurdles in their way. Entertaining, moving and unfailingly feel-good, these emotionally engaging tales of love, resilience and assertion are filled with genuine warmth and wisdom.

Directors Hardik Mehta, Vivek Soni, Shazia Iqbal, Akshay Indikar, Archana Phadke and Collin D'Cunha bring their individual sensibilities and concerns to bear upon the retelling of stories that bear testimony to the all-conquering power of love in the face of intolerance and bigotry.

Love Storiyaan is inspired by stories shared by barrier-breaking couples as part of India Love Project, a social media initiative of journalists Priya Ramani, Niloufer Venkatraman and Samar Halarnkar.

The six selected couples face a variety of problems. Each episode hinges on a specific manifestation of love. The degree of difficulty steadily increases until it reaches a point where one pair transcends not just caste and religion but life-threatening geopolitical realities while another, a trans couple, breaks gender barriers and proclaim their right to be who they want to be.

Stylistically unified to the extent that that every episode is a combination of talking heads and dialogue-less enactments that illustrate crucial parts of each story, the tales blend solemn larger picture insight and lighter intimate moments with the directors informing the treatment with their little defining creative sleights.

Hardik Mehta (Amdavad Ma Famous, Kaamyaab) kicks off the series with An Unsuitable Girl, in which Delhi journalist and editor Aekta Kapoor, coming off a messy marriage foisted upon her without her consent, and Kerala's Ullekh NP, fellow journalist and author, chip away at massive walls - the biggest being the former's younger daughter - in their quest for true love.

Aekta is from an orthodox Punjabi business family. Ullekh, son of a leftist politician who died when he was only five, has a staunchly Marxist background. Their paths cross in exceptional circumstances - as bloggers with divergent views on freedom the duo find enough common ground to be able to close the chasm that separates them. But there is much else they have to contend with.

Replete with conflict, An Unsuitable Girl is about grabbing a second chance and making the most of it in the face of misgivings inevitable in a situation where intrinsic differences threaten to offset the meeting of hearts looking for happiness.

Up next is director Vivek Soni (Meenakshi Sundareshwar) with Love on Air, which tells the story of two rival radio jockeys In Meghalaya who fall in love and a visually impaired listener who brings them together against all odds. Not as different from each other as Aekta and Ullekh were when they decided to wed, Nicholas J Kharnami and Rajani K. Chhetri have no dearth of challenges.

The former is Christian, the latter a Hindu. Nicholas is once-married. Rajani has ended a five-year relationship. The former has issues with committing himself to a new relationship. The latter's parents are opposed to Rajani's liaison with Nicholas. Love on Air employs poetry and the romance of radio to create a dreamy, touching ambience for the Nick-Rajani love story.

Song - Rabindranath Tagore comes in handy here - and abiding affection assume another dimension in Shazia Iqbal's Homecoming. It is about a septuagenarian inter-faith couple, Sunit Kumar Saha and Sharmila 'Farida' Saha, who travel back to Dhaka and Chandpur in Bangladesh where their relationship began amid the country's liberation struggle before they moved to Kolkata in the war's aftermath in the early 1970s and made the city their home.

Sunit was from an affluent family that owned oil and dal mills. Farida's conservative Muslim family was academically sound and politically inclined. They met on the campus of Dhaka University. Their affair ran into stiff opposition from Farida's family but like lovers unmindful of a host of impediments, they persevered. Fifty years on, they retrace the journey

In Akshay Indikar's Raah Sangharsh Ki, the tone shifts significantly. Playing out in the hinterland of Madhya Pradesh, the story centres on Dalit activist Subhadra Kaperde and IIT grad Rahul Banerjee, a well-off Brahmin from Kolkata, who bond over the cause - tribal rights - that they espouse.

Their relationship, by Subhadra's own admission, has weathered many a storm but stood firm because the couple has been wedded as much to their social beliefs as to each other. Their activism is the glue that keeps the couple going.

In the case of Homayan, an engineer from Kabul, and Wayanad resident Dhanya, the protagonists of Archana Phadke's Faasley, the degree of separation is even greater. The man was Dhanya's senior at St Petersburg University in Russia and knew from the moment he first lay eyes on her that she was the one for him.

Bonding over Bollywood movies, the two defy all adversities to marry. But the Afghan civil war and the excesses of the Taliban regime throw their lives into huge turmoil and threaten their physical well-being. They labour on undaunted and love triumphs.

The final episode, Collin D'Cunha's Love Beyond Labels is about a Kolkata trans couple who fend off resistance from their respective families and environments as they transition from one gender to another and marry each other.

Tista Das is an activist who runs an organisation that helps transgenders. The story of Dipan Chakraborty, from the small Assam town of Lumding, rests on his struggles with severe body dysphoria in his growing up years in a society barely aware of the needs of people of his ilk. They meet at a Transgender Visibility Day event in Kolkata and their life is transformed for good.

All the six episodes, remarkably unblemished, are primed for maximum impact, but if one were asked to choose a personal favourite, it would be Shazia Iqbal's Homecoming with Akshay Indikar's Raah Sangharsh Ki a close second.


Aekta Kapoor, Ullekh NP, Nicholas Jonathan Kharnami, Rajani Karki Chhetri, Farida Saha, Sunit Kumar Saha, Rahul Banerjee, Subhadra Khaperde, Dhanya Ravindran, Homayon Khoram, Tista Das and Dipan Chakraborty


Hardik Mehta, Vivek Soni, Shazia Iqbal, Rahul Badwelkar, Akshay Indikar, Archana Phadke and Collin D'Cunha